Customer Service: +61 3 8470 7300
Founder: Bob Carpenter
Founded: 1994
Business: One of Australia’s largest aftermarket distributors with a core focus on light commercial vehicles.

Short History of I Know Parts

It’s a long way from Rotorua in New Zealand where 63-year-old Bob Carpenter was born and raised.

Bob tells you he has limited education, and that everything he learned about business and the spare parts industry was learned on the job. He left school at 15 and took a job sweeping floors in Rotorua in a truck workshop, Industrial Steel and Plant.

“After I’d been there a month, they offered me a job in the workshop as a costing clerk,” Bob said.

“I did that for three months and the spare parts guy left, and they said well, you better get into spare parts and help out there.

“So, I went into spare parts and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

In 1974 at 18 years old I took the position of spare part manager of I.S.P. Napier branch.

In 1976 I was offered the position of parts manager New Zealand Motor Corporation commercial division back in Rotorua. It was my first venture into selling British Leyland parts.

Bob migrated to Australia in October 1978 when he was 22 years-old. He said he did it for the challenge “because I thought I was a big fish in a small pond in New Zealand.”

I Know Parts is based in Military Road in Guildford, a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales. There are two other branches, at Ingleburn and Gosford, in NSW.

Bob started IKP in 1994 when he was 39 years old selling replacement parts to suit Hino vehicles. He said it was a big risk and he had everything on the line: “I cashed in my superannuation, re-mortgaged my house, and then I went for it.

“I started selling parts in February off my kitchen table,” he said.

“And just off the kitchen table in February I did $20,000 worth of sales. In March I sold $40,000, and in April when I kicked off, I did $60,000 so the business literally took off.”

However, as Bob explained, in the first three months he had already sold $120,000 but there was $100,000 out in debtors already.

“I had overseas shipments coming, which needed to be paid for; so, I was pretty financially strapped then,” he said.

“I got a call from Ed Williams at Don Kyatt asking if we’d be interested in selling him a share of the business. They were just doing Isuzu parts so to them it was a good opportunity to have our knowledge on Hino and Mitsubishi and expand into them.

“It was also a good opportunity for us to get a lot of cash to keep us going.”

Bob said Ed basically saved his business: “At that stage I was almost homeless, paying a high mortgage and renting a warehouse.

“Don Kyatt originally had a third, but when my partner didn’t come up with any money and departed the scene, they got half of his share and Don ended up with 41 per cent.”

Bob said there had been many hiccups along the way, and that each hiccup was a learning curve: “You know, with limited education I have become a lot smarter.”

Interviewed May 2019

view the full history

History of I Know Parts

 

1971

15-year old Bob Carpenter left school and took a job sweeping floors in Rotorua, New Zealand, in a truck workshop, Industrial Steel and Plant.

1971

One month later he took a job in the workshop as a costing clerk. Three months later Bob moved into spare parts.

1974

Appointed spare part manager of I.S.P. Napier branch.

1976

Offered the position of parts manager New Zealand Motor Corporation commercial division in Rotorua.

1978

Bob migrates to Australia. Works for Multi Spares, formerly Leyland Spares.

1994

In February, Bob starts I Know Parts, working from his kitchen table.

1994

In August Bob takes on a partner and expands business to do Isuzu and Mitsubishi replacement parts. Partnership failed.

1994

In September, Ed Williams from Don Kyatt Spare Parts (Qld) buys a 41 per cent share of IKP.

2018

Bapcor buys I Know Parts.

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